Gas prices in White Rock reached $1.709 a litre Sunday, April 14, 2019. (Aaron Hinks photo)

High gas prices: Most suppliers won’t release profit margin details for B.C. inquiry

Premier John Horgan ordered probe as price of gas climbed above $1.70 a litre in mid-May

Most gas suppliers in B.C. are refusing to share how they set prices at the pump just days before hearings on the issue are set to begin at a public inquiry.

The B.C. Utilities Commission has been ordered to review the last four years of gas and diesel pricing in the province and asked suppliers to complete a questionnaire about various business aspects including their profit margins.

Commission CEO David Morton said the inquiry panel is working to determine if it needs the financial information and to assure the companies that it won’t release confidential information.

“I don’t think there’s any cause for alarm,” Morton said in an interview on Wednesday.

The suppliers range from Shell and Imperial to Suncor, Husky, Super Save and 7-11, but documents submitted to the commission show that only 7-11 has responded with details about how it sets the price per litre at the pumps.

It has requested the information not be released publicly and the utilities commission has complied, posting a redacted version of 7-11’s questionnaire response on its website.

The other suppliers offered almost identical reasons for withholding profit margin data, with Husky’s submission citing “commercially sensitive information” that is “not shared publicly or between refiners.”

As the price of a litre of regular gasoline climbed above $1.70 in mid-May, Premier John Horgan ordered the probe, saying that gas and diesel price increases were “alarming, increasingly out of line with the rest of Canada, and people in B.C. deserve answers.”

The inquiry timetable calls for the release of the second phase of the utilities commission consultant report by next Wednesday, followed by up to four days of oral submissions, where panel members can question industry representatives, including gas and diesel suppliers.

READ MORE: Horgan heckled as gas prices sit at record high, could go up more

Bruce Ralston, minister of jobs, trade and technology, said in a statement that he’s disappointed with the companies that refused to provide the information and urged them to co-operate.

“People deserve to know why the price of gasoline in B.C. has seen such wild swings,” Ralston said.

But Morton said he’s not surprised that most of the companies withheld the information.

The commission has established procedures for dealing with confidential information, including commercial information around prices that would harm the company if released, but it typically works with gas and electric utilities.

“Many of the participants aren’t as familiar with our approach to confidentiality so we understand there may be some apprehension around it,” Morton said.

If the organizations can show they would experience harm because a competitive price became public, then the utilities commission would typically honour that, he said.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Qualicum Beach council discusses helping out Orca Place residents

Town considers offer of temporary jobs in the future

FEDERAL ELECTION: Courtenay-Alberni candidates visit Parksville’s Ballenas Secondary School

Students ask questions before participating in their own vote

RDN offers free transit to polling stations on Oct. 21

Initiative aimed at boosting voter turnout, reducing vehicles on road

Parksville residents hear compelling tales from recovering young addicts

Speakers emphasize need for detox and treatment centre, shelter in the area

VIDEO: U.S. officials refute British couple’s ‘accidental’ border-crossing claim

Authorities say couple was arrested after illegal entry from B.C., with $16,000 and marijuana

B.C. calls for new caribou habitat restoration projects

Work to restore areas disrupted by logging, roadbuildin

Two RCMP vehicles vandalized in Duncan over long weekend

Local Mounties asking for help in finding culprits

Fire response at Trans Mountain Burnaby tank farm could take six hours: audit

Site doesn’t have mutual aid response agreement with Burnaby fire department

A year after pot legalization in Canada, it’s a slow roll

It’s one year into Canada’s experiment in legal marijuana, and hundreds of legal pot shops have opened

ELECTION 2019: Climate strikes push environment to top of mind for federal leaders

Black Press Media presents a three-part series on three big election issues

Suspect hits woman with pipe, jumps into waiting truck in downtown Nanaimo

Police say victim believes ‘vicious assault’ was an attempted purse-snatching

ICBC willing to loosen grip on driver claim data, David Eby says

Private insurers say claims record monopoly keeps them out

Most Read